287 Evatt to Bruce

Cablegrams 138 and 139 [1] CANBERRA, 19 September 1944


I am naturally concerned with the difference of opinion in relation to the right of veto exercisable by a permanent member of the Council in relation to a dispute to which that member is a party. At the same time it seems tragic that the negotiations should break down merely on that point and especially at the present moment.

In the first place, there is something to be said for the view that unless the three Great Powers have the will to resolve peacefully actual or threatened disputes to which one or more of them is a party, world peace will be most seriously and grievously threatened. The Soviet view seems to be that, if there is a serious dispute in which two of the three Great Powers are irrevocably at odds with the third, the machinery of the World Organisation should not be employed to discipline that big power which may be adjudged in default. Much may be gained by reconsidering this matter and not rejecting Russia's view out of hand. One possible solution is to adopt the Russian thesis provisionally but at the same time provide constitutional machinery for reviewing that decision in say, two years' time when the permanent Council will have to be reconstituted. In any event, it might be wiser to permit the United Nations, as a whole, to discuss the pros and cons of this matter rather than treat the negotiations as at an end during this most critical period.

In a recent analysis before the House [2], I made the following observations which seem to me to be applicable in principle:

The overwhelming preponderance of the world's armed strength now lies in the hands of three powers-Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union. The military power of each one of these powers is so great that any security system which did not have the full backing of all three would have little chance of success.

Equally, it is doubtful whether, if any one of these three were minded to commit an act of aggression, it could be checked by anything less than another world conflict, which it is the primary purpose of any security organisation to avoid.

It follows, firstly, that it is basic to the success of any world Organisation that each of the three Great Powers must be ready to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and a means must be found for composing amicably any differences amongst the Big Three and, secondly, that the three Great Powers must act unitedly against aggression or threats to peace on the part of any other nation. While this may sound like what is called 'power politics', it is only bare common sense, having regard to the experience gained in the working of the League of Nations.

(To London only-This is a personal view, but I would like you to discuss it with Eden. Best wishes.) (To Washington only-This is a personal view, but I would like you to put it to Cadogan or Halifax or both and also talk it over with Berendsen.)

1 Repeated to Dixon as nos 1435 and 1436.

2 Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol.. 179, p. 603.

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